Australia's guestworkers? A discussion of the rights of New Zealand citizens to enter, reside and work in Australia
New Zealanders and Australians have enjoyed free movement across the Tasman since early European settlement of both countries. They have been able to live and work in either country for indeterminate periods, and up until recently, enjoyed many of the same benefits as permanents residents of their respective countries. However from 2001 the Australian government has cut back the entitlements of New Zealanders in Australia to welfare and other benefits. This paper explores the legal position of New Zealanders in Australia and the reasons behind the Australian government’s moves. It will argue that New Zealanders who do not meet the usual permanent residence criteria are effectively being used as temporary migrant labour in Australia. Even where they make Australia their long-term home they have no access to an alternative path to residence and citizenship. Excluded from the franchise, they are in a position of “civic marginalization” in which they have no direct influence over policies such as the 2001 changes to social welfare. The paper will conclude by considering briefly whether a human rights approach could provide a mechanism for these “Ozkiwis” to address differential treatment that has arisen as a result of their civic marginalisation.